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Displaying your dashboard on a screen

Sharing your key metrics with other people in your organisation is a key stage in the journey towards becoming data-driven. A highly effective way to achieve this is to use TV dashboard software like ours to display a selection of key data on a TV screen or monitor in a prominent area in their workplace.

metrics-dashboard-on-a-TV-screen

The benefits these companies see from using TV dashboards are profound. Aside from being able to monitor abnormal events and trends, a simple dashboard with some carefully selected metrics can impact an organisation’s culture, inspiring data-centric conversations (and more importantly, action) like nothing else.

The following guide will explain our recommended approach for getting your dashboard(s) running on a screen.

Overview

With the right equipment and an hour or so of your time, getting your dashboard on to your office wall is relatively straightforward. In a nutshell, our recommended setup involves getting the following in place:

  • One or more screens to display your dashboard(s) on
  • A device that can display a web browser on a screen
  • A wireless internet connection, accessible from where you plan to position your screen(s)

With these ingredients in place, the next step is to connect them all together and load your dashboard from within your device’s web browser.

Selecting a screen

There are no firm requirements for choosing a screen, other than ensuring it is HD (i.e can display in 1080p) and that it has the necessary ports to display the output from the device you select. In our recommended setup you will require an HDMI port. HD TVs work well, as do redundant PC monitors.

You may also want to check what options you have for mounting your screen if you wish to show you dashboard on a wall. Be sure to source the necessary mountings or brackets for securing it to a wall, or purchase a stand before you plan to mount your screen.

Tip: If you’re looking for help with mounting your screen, consider hiring someone for a few hours through TaskRabbit.

Our recommended device

The most important decision to make when planning your setup is over which device to use to power your dashboard. Different devices have different strengths and weaknesses - after testing the current options available, we recommend the ASUS Chromebox and suggest using this if you have an opportunity to start from scratch with your hardware.

asus-chromebox

Chromeboxes are small but capable computers that run Google’s Chrome OS - a lightweight but flexible operating system. They’re relatively inexpensive, are optimised for running the most up-to-date version of Google’s Chrome browser, can run in ‘full screen’ mode, can be used in portrait or landscape, and importantly, they’re able to run continuously in the background. This is a key advantage as this means once you have your dashboard up and running you will not need to reload your dashboard or turn your device on or off - your dashboard will simply be there.

In the Geckoboard offices we use a Chromebox made by ASUS, but there are other variants of the Chromebox about, notably devices from HP and Dell. These will work, but as a minimum we’d recommend making sure there is at least one HDMI port on your device to make it compatible with the widest possible range of screens.

Other devices

There are a whole range of other devices on the market that could be used to display your dashboard on a screen. If you use any of the following, results will vary. Some of the key points to know about each device are listed below:

PC: If you have an old/spare PC to hand you could repurpose it to power the dashboards on your screen. As a minimum it will need to be able to run Google’s Chrome browser (see requirements) and have the necessary ports to connect to your screen.

Chromecast: Google’s Chromecast is a small dongle that plugs into a screen’s HDMI port and allows you to ‘cast’ content to it from Google Chrome (running on your desktop machine), or a number of apps. Casting a browser tab containing your dashboard is a quick way to display a dashboard for a short period of time, but isn’t recommended as a long-term solution as it requires you to keep your dashboard loaded up on your desktop machine.

‘Smart’ TVs: Newer TV sets are now starting to have basic web browsers built into them as standard, removing the need for an external device entirely. Unfortunately, at the moment Smart TVs generally do not work well for loading your dashboard due to the low processing power generally available within TVs. Their browser software also can contain security loopholes, doesn’t benefit from frequent updates from manufacturers and tends to become outdated quickly. As a rule, we do not recommend relying on this as a solution.

Device checklist

  • Can be left on unattended for long periods of time/permanently
  • Runs a modern web browser, ideally Google Chrome
  • Supports landscape or portrait modes
  • Supports full screen mode
  • Has an HDMI output
  • Allows for easy text input (for navigating to your dashboard)
  • Capable of connecting to a wireless network

Displaying your dashboard

Once your hardware is set up, you will need to load up your dashboard in your browser. There are several ways to do this:

Log in to your Geckoboard account and navigate to the dashboard you wish to display. You can minimise the editing interface at the top of the page by clicking the full screen button in the editing pane.

full-screen-geckoboard

Another approach is to navigate your device’s browser to a Secure Sharing Link. Secure Sharing Links allow you to link to a read-only version of a dashboard you’ve created. The same Sharing Link can be loaded on multiple devices and doesn’t require a password to be entered - quicker, but less secure than displaying directly from within your account Sharing Links will update periodically with fresh data, but you can also update them instantly with our remote refresh feature.

If you want to display several dashboards on the same screen you can create a Dashboard Loop. Dashboard Loops allow you to create a single link that will cycle through a series of dashboards you assign to it.

For extra peace of mind, there is also the option to restrict access to your dashboards by IP address.

Don’t have a KPI Dashboard to display?

Create your own dashboard today, by starting a free Geckoboard trial (no credit card required)!